Scottish Boy Scout Uniforms


Figure 1.--Scottish Scouts at the 1929 World Jamboree. Scouts here are wearing the standard British Scout uniform, but some are wearing it with kilts. All the Scouts are wearing the wide-brimmed Scout cap. We do not see ny Glen garies.

I don't yet have any historical information on the foundations of Scouting in Scotland. Presumably it occurred at about the same time as Scoting was founded in England. HBU at this time does not have information on the popularity of Scouting in Scotland. We do not know if it differed from that of Scouting in England. Scouting has been seen as a middle-class movement and it may be given the low income levels in Scotland, compared to England, that it may have been less popular in Scotland. We have very limited chronolgical information on Scottish Scout uniforms. As far as we know, Scottish Scouts followed the same chronolgical changes as did English Scouts. As far as we know, the Scottish and English Scout uniforms were the same, except that the Scottish boys had the option of wearing kilts. Scottish Cubs have almost always worn the traditional peaked Cub cap as in England. We have not noted Scottish Cubs wearing Glengarries or other destinctive headwear.

History

I don't yet have any historical information on the foundations of Scouting in Scotland. Presumably it occurred at about the same time as Scoting was founded in England.

Popularity

HBU at this time does not have information on the popularity of Scouting in Scotland. We do not know if it differed from that of Scouting in England. Scouting has been seen as a middle-class movement and it may be given the low income levels in Scotland, compared to England, that it may have been less popular in Scotland. The problem appears to have been not that Scouting was not popular with working-class boys, but just that they just could not afford to join. Here the cost of buying a uniform was a major impediment. This problem was expressed by novelist James Buchan in Huntingtowers (1922) where poor Glasgow boys who can't afford to become Scouts, form a kind of unofficial troop. We do do note, however, that we have received a report from a Scouter who grew up in a Council estate (government owned-housing) and he and his friends report enjoying Scouting.

Levels

Scouts in Scotland had the same levels as in England. The major divisions were Cubs, Scouts, and Ventures. Actually the entire organization was British. The only real difference between the Scouts in Scotland and England is that Scottish Scouts were allowed to wear kilts. This usually occurred at the Scout and Venture level. Few Cubs wore kilts, although we see Scottish Cub leaders wearing kilts. And sandals do not see to be as common as in England. The rest of the uniform and program at each level, as far as we know, was the same in Scotland and England. Hopefully our Scottish readers can provide more details here.

Chronology

We have very limited chronolgical information on Scottish Scout uniforms. As far as we know, Scottish Scouts followed the same chronolgical chnges as did English Scouts. As far as we know, the Scottish and English Scout uniforms were the same, except that the Scottish boys had the option of wearing kilts. Thus at this time we do not know of any chronological differenced in Scottish and English Scout uniforms, but our information is still very limited.


Figure 2.--Scottish Scouts often wear their kilts at international events like this U.S. Scout Jamboree in 1993.

Uniform

Scottish Scouts wear the same uniform as other British Scouts but have had the option of wearing kilts rather than short pants or after the 1969 uniform change, long pants. I'm not sure when the option of wearing kilts was authorized, but presumably it was from the beginning of the Scout movement in Scotand. I am not sure how common it was for Scottish boys to have kilts. They are fairly expensive garments, so it is likely that only middle-class had them. This would mean that many working-class boys would not have kilts. Thus there may have been some variations in the uniforming of Scottish Scouts. I'm not sure what the original Scottish Scout uniform was. It may have been identical to the English uniform, or it might have consisted of the kilt rather than short pants from the beginning. We have noted Scottish Scouts in the 1920s wearing kilts with the tradituional wide-brimmed Scout hat (figure 1). Many Scottish Scouts still choose to wear the kilt. But as it is rather epensive, the kilt is now generally only worn for ceremonial occasions. Modern Scouts often wear their kikts with a Glengarry cap, but we have also noted berets like those worn in England. Scottish Cubs have almost always worn the traditional peaked Cub cap as in England. We have not noted Scottish Cubs wearing Glengarries or other destinctive headwear. I am not sure how commonly Scottish Cubs wore kilts like the Scouts. A Scottish reader tells us that in the 1950s that he and some other Cubs occassionally wore kilts to meetings, but that it was less common than in the Scouts. Another Scottish reader reports that "Most Scottish Cubs in the 1980s and early 90s that I have seen wore short trousers until the 1990s when long pants became more common." Another report from Scotland indicates, "I never saw any Scottish Cubs in kilts. I don't know why. Maybe they just ran around so much it wasn't practical."

Garments

HBC at this time does not have good information on the garments worn by Scottish Scouts and Cubs. Notice that the Scottish Scouts here where green shirts. We are not sure if this represents a different level of Scouting or if the Scottish Scouts had a differnt uniform than worn by English Scouts (figure 1). I'm not sure about the official headwear. The kilt is generally asociated with Scottish Scouts. We note many images of Scottish Scouts with boys wearing both short pants and kilts. We note few images of Cubs wearing kilts. We note Scouts wearing kilts from very early period in Scottish Scouting. The kilt is worn by many Scottish Scouts, especially for dress occassions. Scottish Scouts also wear them to international events like Jamborees. When roughing it, the kilt is usually put away and more conventional uniforms worn. Scottish Cubs wear the same uniform as English Scouts, although a badge identifies them as Scottish. Scottish Cubs have also worn kilts, but not as commonly as the older Scouts.

Activities

Scottish Scouts pursued the same basic activities as English Scouts. We do not know of many differences in the activites persued specifically in Scotland. Exceptions here may be a variety of activites concerned with Scottish hitory and cilture. The bagpipes are often present at Scottish Scout camps and activities and we notice the Scouts engaged in Highland dancing, although we are not sure how common that was. Hopefully our Scottish readers will provide somme information here.

Sea Scouts

We do not know a great deal about specialized Scouting in Scotland. We do know that there are Sea Scouts. One Edinburgh troop is a mixed unit, regular and Sea Scouting. The Scottish Sea Scouts wear light blue shirts raher than the dark green shirts Scouts wear. It looks like Sea Scout Cubs wear a light blue shirt just like the older Sea Scouts. There does not appear to ne a special Sea Scout Cub uniform.

Religion

W have only limited information on religion and Scottish Scouting. I'm not sure what the regulations were concerning relogion. Actual religious practices would have varied from troop to troop. This is because many troops were sponsored by individual churches. These troops would have been composed mostly with boys from the same religion. They would have also given more attention to religious activities. I am not sure to what extent they excluded boys of other religions. Secular groups also sponsored Scout troops. Generally speaking religion would have been given less attention in these troops. They would have been composed of boys from different religions. I do not know what the policy toward athiests was. We notice Jewish troops. We assume that this is a troop organized by a synagogue. We are unsure what the policy of other Scout groups was toward Jews.

Personal Experiences

Personal experiences submitted by HBC reades will be archived here.

A Scottish Cub in the 1950s reports that his Cub uniform was remarkably similar to that still worn today, except the cap has since disappeared and the majority of boys now wear long trousers, except perhaps during summer. "We wore a green peaked cap with yellow piping, a green sweater and kneckerchief in pack colours, grey school shorts, grey school socks with green garter tabs or flashes as we called them and either black shoes or plimsoles (black gym sneakers). Everyone wore sandals (Clarks) in summer. We worn them to Cubs and Scouts-- but it had to be black shoes for parades in Cubs. We got inspected before we went out."

Our Scout uniform was very different however and on reflection not very practical for the UK climate. We wore the traditional lemon squeezer hat, a khaki short sleeved shirt and kneckerchief in Troop colours, baggy khaki shorts which grew shorter during the later years and fawn knee socks with flashes in Troop colours to hold them up. The hat, shirt and kneckerchief were standard wear but the other articles were put together from whatever was available locally. We also had a leather Scout belt with metal loops in it to hang a knife or whistle from.

A Scottish Scout in the 1960s reporrts that his Troop wasn't very strict about uniform:

We were often allowed to wear jeans for outdoor activities where bare legs were deemed unsuitable, for example when hiking through scratchy undergrowth, or when there were a lot of midges or mosquitos about. Other Troops in the district were much more fussy, however, and in two Troops at least the boys wore kilts for best.

I only wore a kilt once for Scouts, when we did an exchange with the German Scouts from our twin town in Bavaria. When it was decided we would all wear kilts for this visit, it turned out that about half the boys had their own to wear but the others, like myself, had to kitted out in a borrowed one. Not being used to it, I wasn't keen at first but when we got to Germany and found we were the centre of attention it wasn't so bad and we made quite a bit of extra pocket money hiring out our kilts to the German boys for photographs to be taken.

As a result of this trip some of us older boys adopted the short cut, lederhosen style shorts and rolled down socks worn by the German boys. We thought this uniform was much more with it than our rather old fashioned one with long, baggy shorts. But despite being in long trousers now for school, I can't recall anyone complaining about wearing shorts for Scouts or making an issue of it. Prior to the official change to longs we participated in a series of meetings with our leaders and I can't remember anyone even bringing up the subject of wearing long trousers. Actually, our biggest gripe was with the hat which had to starched and ironed every week but still became floppy after the slightest bit of rain.

My kid brother was still in Scouts when the change to long trousers came and I think my parents were rather surprised by the decision, especially since Scottish boys left Primary School at age 12 rather than 11, a year later than their English counterparts, and most boys still wore shorts during their first year at Secondary School. So my parents, like many others, considered the new Scout uniform optional rather than mandatory and my brother - like several of the younger boys - wore shorts to Scouts until he was about 13. The new uniform was adopted only gradually as standard wear.


1950s-60s: Boy in a Council estate







HBU






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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 10:41 PM 5/26/2005